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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, September 15, 2016 6:52 pm

Blackmon looking for new twist on leadership

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

Forget the fact Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. was recently cleared to resume all basketball activities, signficant though it may be for a starter coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Blackmon missed all of January, February and March as the Hoosiers zoomed to an outright Big Ten regular-season title and Sweet 16 appearance. But he spent those months, and the offseason that is now winding down, seeing the game and his team from a new perspective.

And what's the biggest part of the picture, even beyond medical clearance?

"Just really being more vocal (than previously)," Blackmon said Thursday. "Just talking to guys, letting them know what we do and how we run our program. I'm starting to try to be a leader."

The Hoosiers and coach Tom Crean could use a few new leaders given that four-year starting point guard Yogi Ferrell is gone.

"I think it's still evolving," IU assistant coach Tim Buckley said. "Coach's expectations are for everyone to lead, and I think they do it in their own way. As James had mentioned, he needs to continue to be more vocal."

Indiana is viewed as a top-15 team leading into the Nov. 11 season opener against Kansas, even though Ferrell, Troy Williams, Nick Zeisloft and Max Bielfeldt are key cogs to replace all at once.

"The older guys were very player-driven, and we need to continue to be that way," Buckley said.

Blackmon is especially excited to show the ropes to newcomers Freddie McSwain Jr. and De'Ron Davis.

"They're both competitors," Blackmon said. "That's what we do here. De'Ron always asks questions, and Freddie's always ready to go. They're two guys I feel like fit well with us."

Lbs for OG: How many extra pounds did OG Anunoby add during the offseason? The Hoosiers listed his weight at 215 on the 2015-16 roster but now list the lanky forward at 235. Anunoby downplays his gains.

"Honestly, like 5 pounds," Anunoby said. "Really."

A reporter responded by throwing out the 20-pound difference indicated by the school's website, which prompted teammate Robert Johnson to chime in.

"That's probably closer to it," Johnson said.